Why Some Become Pirates

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Pirates worked in the wealth accumulation business over many years in different geographic locations; most pirates conducted business at sea. Pirates perfected the art of plundering both covertly and overtly from numerous sources. Pirates often employed direct force-of-arms to obtain items of worth with a realization there was little hope of converting that wealth into real estate or cash. Pirates generally mistrusted anything other than gold, silver, jewels, and good versus junk jewelry.


Mistrusted sources were banks, (I Owe You) certificates including IOU’s from other pirates, stocks, bonds, and fake treasure maps of uncharted islands. Safekeeping of ill-gotten gains was a continual worry for pirates. Captives were at times included as spoils resulting from winning a fight at sea with a commercial vessel. Prisoners joined pirate crews or were exchanged for items of monetary value if they were that fortunate. Generally speaking, pirates were not nice folks. However, some pirates were clever and much can be learned by reading about the exploits of pirates be it fictional or nonfictional.


Some pirates obtained Letters of Marque creating some recognition and protection from a nation at war with another nation. Only pirates that knew their stuff and had good reputations for doing really bad stuff to those attacked were offered these letters. Pirates operating as privateers mostly did more bad stuff to help a particular cause as opposed to a free-for-all attitude toward wealth accumulation from anywhere they could get it. Privateers approached respectability in the eyes of some persons.


Pirates started careers from various levels of the social strata – some started as wealthy young persons from good families that were able to offer promising future opportunities for advancement. Some of these fledging pirates found themselves plunged into depression that was caused by a social disgrace or a romantic relationship gone-wrong. Other reasons for choosing to ply the pirate trade included just plain boredom with the “good life” leading to a fling at attainment of increased attention among one’s peers. The other end of the pirate career pool consisted of poverty ridden persons with little hope of attaining a better life. Involvement in petty crime from an early age often honed fighting skills and a desire to visit far-flung places inhabited by wild party types.


Pirates buried their treasure in chests in far-flung places and at times lost their ill-gotten gains at the bottom of the sea as a result of hostile (to them) sources stemming from losing battles to naval warships including being sunk by less than friendly other pirates. Generally, pirates displayed a lack of respect for lawful authority, projected attitudes of bad behavior including practices of poor hygiene, unkempt appearances while at times engaging in gluttony in total disregard for pursuing healthful eating habits, and they had a disdain for dental hygiene resulting in flashy smiles from multiple gold teeth. And pirates cultivated unbridled attitudes relative to pursuing romantic activities within and outside the institution of marriage. Being a good pirate is a disgrace to the vocation. The best pirates are really bad folks and folks love pirate books jammed-full of fighting and tough decision making under horrible conditions with dire consequences resulting from errors in judgments.


Pirates that survive longer than others are usually very clever in making the most out of really bad situations. Other pirates keep the jailhouses in a state of overcrowding thereby driving budgets into overruns. This situation began years before the Tower of London was ordered to provide rooms for members of royalty. Romance looms large in the domain of pirates, and this emotion has started many a poor, law-abiding, hardworking individual down the road toward ill-gotten gains. Folks love pirate books laced with romance.


So why do folks like to read pirate stories? Research reveals the answer has to do with romance, money, improved living conditions (often temporary in nature depending on the degree of piracy) and in some instances, revenge for some actual or perceived digression from the norms of society. Generally, pirates are not interested in free stuff because free is for everyone and obviously not worth stealing.


Dave Volek Added Oct 22, 2017 - 11:16am
Yes, we have idolized these people for the wrong reasons. They were bad people and it was a hard life. Just like being a gang member today or even today's pirates in the Indian Ocean.
Charles Frankhauser Added Oct 22, 2017 - 11:37am
Dave Volek -- Yes I agree pirates were and are admired for the wrong reasons. Some pirates were forced into the "profession" and others joined to realized ill-gotten gains from plunder rather than honest work. I wrote this post because it describes the historical setting for a novella to illustrate how easily an innocent act (noble girl's kiss in a garden) can result in wrecking the life of an innocent young man.  Note: some people get upset when I mention an Amazon/Kindle title, but this work delivers subtle messages to different age groups. (Last Pirate at Fort Matanzas is the title.) How many times have real persons caused great hurt to others as the result of a selfish action?
Dino Manalis Added Oct 22, 2017 - 4:05pm
Pirates are thieves on the high seas!
Jeff Jackson Added Oct 22, 2017 - 4:11pm
The "pirate age" in the Caribbean was not very long, we just make it look long because we idealize it. Pirates didn't bury treasure, they went out and blew it on booze and all kinds of other immoral behavior. Pirates did have some honor, in that they were mostly democracies where the captain was voted in or out. As I understand it, all loot was equally divided, for the most part. Some of the Jean Lafitte, had grudges against the governments, imagine that.
Remember that the law of the sea means that the captain, the captain, can decide to toss pirates off of the ship at his/her discretion, there are no human rights laws on the open ocean, as I understand it. People literally live and die on the captain's word, that is the law of the ocean as I understand it. Perhaps our resident captain here on WB can offer some insight into this.
Charles Frankhauser Added Oct 22, 2017 - 5:03pm
Jeff, your grasp of pirate ops is truly amazing and right on the mark. People have become wealthy by finding gold on the ocean floor as a result of battles at sea. And yes voting for Captain was common due to a rather high turnover rate from sword fights. I am not interested in selling books but rather for some obscure reason I write them to entertain others.  Note until midnight 23 Oct. my screenplay, "RC and RUBY Screenplay" is free on Kindle (essentially modern day pirates engaged in espionage).  However, to entertain myself I wrote the novella, Last Pirate at Fort Matanzas on Kindle as humor based on your observations re pirates. It is not currently free but I cycle it free whenever I can. The "Look Inside" click on cover is always free.  If you like politics, take a look at title, Slush Pile Inspector.  People get all heated-up when I mention my books on here, but that's OK if they need something to think about. Best, Charles
Edgeucation Newmedia Added Oct 22, 2017 - 6:27pm
There is often a romance with stories about bandits and often they are made to be justified like depression era bank robbers who tore up or burned deeds or mortgage documents to farms held by banks. 
Jeffry Gilbert Added Oct 23, 2017 - 12:16am
Pirates. Such as in highway pirates of the government kind. These predators who pull over drivers on the thinnest of contrived suspicion as an excuse to search the vehicle and confiscate anything they want. These local cops operating under the authority and grants of those monsters at DEA conspiring to relieve people of their property without due process. 
Mircea Negres Added Oct 23, 2017 - 3:11am
Charles, I remember as a kid my favorite book about pirates was Captain Blood. The fascination was with the thought of travelling to exotic locales really, because that was something we couldn't freely do under communism, as well as retribution. Yeah, the thought of carrying on a war against one's own country because of some injustice was appealing too, but I don't remember ever wanting to be a pirate. Other than that, it was many years later that I came across one or two books about real pirates and whatever romantic bubble there was got promptly punctured by understanding what the life was actually like. Thanks for the informative post!
Jeffry, I understand US cops pull people over and confiscate their cash on the suspicion that it's used for drug trafficking and such, then in court the government brings a lawsuit against the money instead of the person it belongs to, in a clear violation of legal principles. I wonder, do other governments issue travel advisories to warn their citizens about what's happening in the States? I ask this because I don't remember ever hearing of such a warning from the South African government or tourist organizations.   
Mircea Negres Added Oct 23, 2017 - 3:13am
By the way guys, a good series about pirates to watch is Black Sails. Set in the Caribbean, it was actually filmed in South Africa. Even Edward Teach makes an appearance... 
Charles Frankhauser Added Oct 23, 2017 - 11:03am
Thanks for insightful comments from all. Seems like we all agree that pirates are bad folks.  However, how does one become a really good pirate?  Are there pirate schools that teach treachery, murderous behavior, and other courses in lying, cheating, and stealing?  Is this profession so exclusive that only "on the job training" is available?  Can one slowly drift into becoming a pirate without realizing it until it is too late to go back and consequently one is driven forward in refining the vocation?  And remember, "there is Honor among thieves." Proof of good practices among pirates is the display of the Jolly Roger after tricking a commercial vessel into allowing a pirate ship to masquerade as a friendly vessel prior to an attack. Is piracy today still around us in business and government operations? A mandatory requirement might be to display the Jolly Roger prior to closing a business deal to help the uninformed consumer.
Riley Brown Added Oct 26, 2017 - 10:29am
Who says we idolize Pirates, I don't think we do.  We romanticize the concept of big strong savvy individuals who aren't afraid to do things the rest of us wouldn't otherwise really ever do, but Pirates are only one example.  We also do the same for anyone else who similarly takes big chances, especially physical ones, and beats the odds.
We even embrace wimps who turn into super hero's, and they don't even actually exist.  Superman, Batman and Spider-man are equally romanticized.
Dave Volek Added Oct 27, 2017 - 5:51pm
The US has laws that allow the government to take assets from those who are profiting from illegal activities. And from what I understand, it is used a lot. If the government agents have a strong suspicion that assets were gained by organized crime, they can be seized, then it would be up to the criminal to prove in court that the assets were "earned" in an honest way.
Unfortunately, this law has been extended to more honest citizens who don't pay their taxes on time. Assets can be seized in lieu of taxes; The IRS need not go through a lengthy court process. But this might be anecdotal.
I believe Canada has similar seizure laws, but they are not invoked that often.
Anyways, they are laws that keep organized crime on its toes.
Jeffry Gilbert Added Oct 28, 2017 - 1:53am
 If the government agents have a strong suspicion that assets were gained by organized crime, they can be seized
Ok, so g'day eh, today's topic is: Statists. Ok, so, ok eh, maybe in the great white north suspicion is enough eh, in free countries it's NOT eh. If you think, ok, so it's like ok eh, you may be like a statist eh. Ok, so like g'day eh.

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